To develop a new therapeutic method to treat olfactory deficits, we investigated the engraftment and regenerative effects of transplanted bone marrow stromal cells (BMSCs) on damaged rat olfactory mucosa. To induce olfactory nerve degeneration, one side of the olfactory mucosa of Sprague–Dawley rats was damaged via Triton X-100 irrigation. Phosphate-buffered saline containing syngeneic BMSCs was injected into the olfactory mucosa for transplantation. PKH fluorescent cell dye labeling of BMSCs was used to monitor the transplanted cells. After transplantation of BMSCs, the thickness and regeneration of olfactory mucosa were analyzed using hematoxylin-eosin (H&E) staining. S100 immunohistochemical staining was used to measure nerve sheath regeneration. The increase in NGF (nerve growth factor) level in the olfactory mucosa was measured by Western blot analysis. Transplanted bone marrow stromal cells were engrafted to the lamia propria of damaged mucosa. The mean time for normalization of thickness and morphological recovery of the olfactory mucosa was 4 weeks in the therapeutic group and 9 weeks in the control group. S100 immunoreactivity was higher on the BMSC-treated side than on the control side. During regeneration, the expression of NGF increased in the olfactory mucosa of the experimental group. Based on these results, BMSC transplantation accelerated regeneration of olfactory mucosa damaged by Triton X-100, and NGF may be essential to this regenerative process.
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